"I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." - Henry David Thoreau
We haven't had a frost yet here on the river, but the garden is certainly slowing down. Summer's watering and weeding of tender new growth has been replaced by gathering the tail end of the harvest (Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, herbs, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower) and turning our attention to collecting seeds.
I love the tidy little seed pouches hanging from our morning glory vines. We have been collecting lots of morning glory seeds and are saving them in small envelopes to give to friends and to plant next year. I also plan to have my students give their mothers packets of morning glory seeds as part of a Mother's Day card in the spring.
For the past couple years, I have dried and saved pumpkin seeds to plant in the spring. Last year, I had my students remove the seeds from a pumpkin I brought from our garden for a pumpkin investigation activity. I allowed the seeds to dry, and my students colored pumpkin seed envelopes that I assembled, filled with seeds, and gave to each child to take home.
There is something really special, satisfying, and metaphorical about sharing seeds. It is a gift of love and hope. There is tremendous potential in a seed.
This summer, I discovered my husband was hoarding some concord grapes his parents gave him from their garden. Truth is, he didn't want my son to know about them because he has quite a reputation when it comes to fruit! At some point, my husband let me in on his little secret, and boy were those grapes delicious! Eventually he even gave some to my son, who appreciated them very much. My husband decided to save the grape seeds in hopes of growing some from seed, and we have little trays of grape seeds lined up with little trays of several other types of seeds drying on a kitchen shelf. A dear friend of mine (who I consider my first spiritual mentor) came for a visit a couple days ago, and during his visit, my husband remembered that his parents' grapevines came from the grapevines of my friend's father! That made the grape seeds even more special. They are part of a legacy. And a small world of infinite interconnections.
Acorns are probably my very favorite seeds of all. I find it amazing that the acorn resting in my hand has the potential to become a mighty oak tree. There is an incredible picture book written by Joseph Anthony called In a Nutshell that explores the life cycle of an acorn that falls from an oak tree at the beginning of the story. The acorn grows into an oak tree and lives a full life. In time it dies, becomes part of the soil, and nourishes a cherry tree that eventually is planted in its place long after anyone can remember an oak tree ever having been there. At the end of the book, the life energy that was in the tiny acorn becomes part of the soil, the new tree, and the family that eats the cherries. It is an endless cycle that has much in common with the human life cycle.
Before reading this story to my class this year, I showed them a little acorn baby I made a while back, explaining that the acorn baby is asleep on an oak leaf in a cradle of acorns, dreaming of becoming an oak tree.
I love to create acorn themed figures!
This week, I've also made some felted acorns while viewing livestreamed and webcasted talks given by H.H. the Dalai Lama during his Northeast tour.
As the sun set today (and after watching one of the Dalai Lama's talks), I felt inspired to create a fall mandala using the felted acorns.
Then again, I also adore milkweed seeds. One of my favorite fall activities is to give each of my students a milkweed pod to open on a windy day. We go outdoors and watch millions of milkweed seed fairies being released into the wind - and hope that some of them will grow into milkweed plants that will attract and feed monarch caterpillars and butterflies on our school grounds.
When I think about plant life cycles, it occurs to me that the most basic purpose of a plant is to produce seeds. The flowers are beautiful, and the fruit and vegetables provide nourishment to humans and other animals, but the seeds are what endure and carry the plant forward into subsequent generations. There is another exceptional children's book called A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds (written by Jean Richards). What a fabulous title! Pretty much says it all.
It's interesting to stop and consider what seeds we carry in our suitcase. What kind of legacy are we creating as we go about the business of expressing our unique essence and fragrance in this world?
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